This section covers a reunion of friends.
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A Friendly Reunion
Shortly afterwards a Spacer arrived walking beside Undepoldus. She was carrying a portable processor.
"Hello," She said. "My name is Jemma Cox. I have brought your friend to see you. He is very talkative and very interested in everything here."
The processor said through its small loudspeaker. "Hello George, Marita and Kerstin. Jemma has been looking after me on my way here. Jemma, I would like to thank you for your help. I think that I can manage by myself now. You are welcome to stay and have breakfast with us if you like."
Jemma said. "Thanks all the same Undepoldus. I must rest now. I look forward to having another chat with you later." To George, Marita and Kerstin she said. "I think that Undepoldus will need time to get used to the low gravity here. We take it for granted but it is hard for Undepoldus to manage his momentum and friction. If he tries to turn too quickly he rolls over and finds it hard to stop himself. If he tries to rear up, he falls over. He likes to do things himself but he has had to admit that he needs help here."
George said. "Thank you Jemma. Thank you for looking after my old buddy. I am glad to have him back with me."
Jemma said. "It was a pleasure George," and left.
Undepoldus said. "We have had an interesting week but I will tell you about that later. I have a problem right now that I can't solve by myself. I have this feeling that I am slipping down a slide all the time. I know what the cause is but I cannot convince myself that I am not sliding even though I know I am stationary. Can you help George?"
George said. "I don't know yet Undepoldus. The gravity here is not real. We are being spun around to create a feeling of gravity. For us, if our surroundings are moving with us, we can accept it as if it was normal gravity. Your own motion sensors must be detecting the circular motion and that makes you feel as if you are sliding."
Undepoldus said. "It is one thing to know what is happening but quite another to convince an autonomic system that it does not matter."
Marita said. "There is no solution to your problem here at Lagrange Five because all habitats spin. Even if we used gravity compensators to alter the relative strength of apparent gravity, we could not get rid of the spinning effect. I suggest that you try a centrifuge that can vary the speed of rotation and that can alter the apparent gravity. If you could stand a higher speed of rotation for a while, when you are back in an environment like this one, the effect may seem less, even if it does not disappear altogether."
George said. "I have just thought that you may be suffering from disorientation because of the way you sense your position. There are a number of insects that are loosely called flies. These insects have short stemmed appendages that have knobs on their ends. These appendages are called balancing organs or halteres because they enable the fly to sense its orientation and detect its acceleration. Without them a fly cannot fly very well if at all. Your whiskers remind me of a fly's balancing organs although you normally use them for several different purposes. Your autonomic system must be detecting the way that they are deflected by the rotational motion. If you could hold all your whiskers still for a moment, you might feel that the sliding sensation goes away. If you do, my supposition is right. If you do not, we will have to try to think of something else."
"I think you are right George. I cannot stop all of my whiskers moving at once. It may be something to do with the way I breathe. I can stop some of them moving and I can feel that the sliding effect is less when I do so."
George saw waves of motionless whiskers traverse from one end of Undepoldus to the other. Each set of whiskers stopped for less than a tenth of a second but it was clear that Undepoldus was deriving some benefit from the exercise.
After a minute or two Undepoldus said. "Each time I stop
some whiskers and let them start again, the effect is reduced.
I will repeat this procedure again to see if the effect continues
to diminish. I am grateful to you George for your observation.
I wish that I could think like you do."
George said. "Our way of thinking has led to what you see all around you. All humans that do not have a mental disability can learn to do anything. I suspect that because you were created, you were programmed to do some things very well at the expense of inefficiency in other things. When you work together with a human, the two sets of abilities can produce a result that is better than either can do alone."
Undepoldus continued: "Marita, your students amazed me time after time with their ways of thinking. My brain must be quite different from theirs because it cannot link disparate ideas at all. I have tried to emulate the way you humans think many times but I cannot. I can have many conversations at once very easily but I cannot relate things like you can. Although my brain works many times faster than yours does for some things, yours beats mine for abstract linking. Last Monday I arranged with Gurprit and Anita to talk to everyone at once through twenty-seven processors. If it had been ordinary conversations I was having, I would have had no difficulties. With your students Marita, every one of them gave a solution to a problem as fast as I posed it. I could not cope with the results that they could provide quickly enough. I found it was better to pose a problem to all of them at once and to let them discuss alternative solutions before giving me an answer. I have learned from the processor that the technique that they use instinctively is known as lateral thinking. I can only use progressive thinking. They seemed to delight in using silly ideas to produce sensible ones."
Kerstin asked. "Undepoldus, I guess that you are all here because you traced the organisers of those who attacked us and dealt with them. Can you tell me what you did?"
Undepoldus said. "You know that I had traced a lot of people through the vidcom network and the processors that they were using. I had planned to bug their processors to discover their organisers through their communications. I managed to organise a few bugs but it was slow work. Each processor had to be accessed directly because of Asimovian protection and there were a lot of processors to deal with. Then Rachel and Wilhelm suggested an idea that I could try."
They said. 'Make the Asimovian protection work for you instead of against you.'
"I could not understand what they meant until they explained it to me in more detail. They then said. "Inform all the processors that their operators may or may not be planning to violate Asimov's laws. The processors should be told to check for a few key words like McFigg, Andersson, Regent's Park, the worm and Undepoldus. If two or more of these words were detected in an incoming or outgoing message, the processor would tell the operator that he or she may be contravening Asimovian laws. The processor would then ask. "Are you working under duress?" If the answer was yes or if there was no answer, the processor would inform the operator that Asimovian laws will prevent all processors on all vidcom networks from working for the operator in future. The operator would then be told that he or she could continue to use processors on the vidcom network if certain conditions were met. They should name the persons who were giving them orders and the reasons for being under duress. If the information was satisfactory, the processor would be reactivated."
Kerstin said. "That sounds to me like a brilliant solution. Did it work?"
Undepoldus said. "At first, nothing seemed to happen. Then after an hour there were hundreds of calls to my processor. Many of the people concerned relied on vidcom processors for their work. If no vidcom processor would work for them, they could do no work at all. Others realised that they could no longer keep in contact with their friends and relatives or use the vidcom network for purchases or entertainment. Many of them had to find operators that had not sent or received messages concerning any of the words in order to contact me. Some of the messages I received showed how desperate these people were to retain the use of their processors. One or two of them realised what had been done. They arranged for others who were not connected with the organisation to send messages to the organisers. The local processor was instructed to tell the destination processor to invoke the Asimovian laws on the same basis as I had done. When I had the identities of the organisers, I was able to relay the information to the local police where they were.
I told the police that the suspects could be identified if no processor would work for them. I also included the methods they had used to coerce people into doing their various jobs. With most of them it was a threat to kill the children of relatives or friends. They were sent complete details of the children and their daily routines to convince them that it was possible. They were also told that the children would meet with nasty accidents if the police were informed. I have the names of those who told the police what they knew. All of them are dead. Because the deaths were relatively few and occurred in different parts of Britain, they were not connected with each other. Now, anyone who tells the police anywhere in Europe about such a threat will immediately receive police protection. I have records of twenty-three deaths that are linked to the organisation. Most of the original organisers were under threat themselves through the influence of a fanatical religious leader.
I called the man through the vidcom network and identified myself. I explained what I had done and how I could prove that he was telling lies about me and his religion. The information I had was already circulated among the more moderate leaders of his religion. Soon he would be denounced as a fraud who would have people killed for his own selfish ends. He shot himself before I had told him all I knew about him."
Kerstin asked. "Do you think that the threats on your life are now finished with?"
Undepoldus said. "Not entirely. There will always be those who will try to improve their status by claiming that someone or something is bad for the world or their religion. Some of the moderate religious leaders I have contacted despair of the way some people will attempt to corrupt their religion to achieve power or status. I have told them that I know that I am a threat to their religion because I am fairly sure that I was created like a processor. I know that I am intelligent in a sort of way and I am a living entity that comes from outside the solar system. If their religion cannot accept that natural and artificial life can exist on planets of other solar systems throughout the universe, it must be based on a false doctrine."
Marita asked. "How could you convince them that you are what you said you are?
"Some of them doubted that it was me talking to them. I told them that all they had to do was to check with their processors. Processors cannot lie except to obey the first law. None of them doubted it was me after that.
One of them asked me what my religion was. I said that I am driven to help and protect intelligent beings from misfortune. I was created that way. I also said that there is evidence that there are many creatures like me where I came from. I then said. Ask yourself why your god has not revealed to you or any of your prophets more about the universe than non-religious scientists have discovered. He wept. Then I cleared the connection."
Kerstin asked. "What has happened to the prisoners that were brought here?"
Undepoldus said. "They have all applied to become Spacers. They are now on the Moon having basic training."
George said. "Undepoldus, you and Marita's students have completed a remarkable feat. You should be congratulated for the work you have done. One thing bothers me. Did any of the prisoners confess that they had been coerced into what they had done?"
"Eventually all of them did. One of them started to confess when they were taken to a place called the Eden wheel. I do not know why it is called that because Eden is a religious myth and Spacers do not have any religion.
The Spacer who accompanied them said that they would be kept there and looked after at Lagrange Five until they died of old age. The Eden Wheel was built for peace and tranquillity. The only man-made things on Eden are to maintain the environment. There are no processors, no machines except a few robots and nobody wears clothes there. Gardeners assisted by robots care for the plants and animals. The garden is 25 kilometres long and 150 metres wide. One man asked if it was true that he could stay there as long as he wanted to. The answer was yes. He then started to say how he had been threatened. The others who had kept silent realised that they had been threatened in almost identical ways and confessed too. The Spacer with them said that those who had threatened them would never know what they had said. Now that they had confessed to being coerced, they were now free to do whatever they wanted to do and to go wherever they wanted to go. The Spacers League would provide everything they needed. When they returned to the accommodation wheel, they were told that the organisation that had threatened them had been broken up by me. None of the dire consequences that they had been told could happen would ever happen. Two of them asked if they could be gardeners on the Eden wheel. They were told that they would have to undergo Spacer training first and become bald like all Spacers. They accepted. The others asked if they could become Spacers too. As I said, they are now receiving basic training."
Marita asked. "How did you arrange to come here to Lagrange Five?"
Undepoldus said. "I suggested to Rear Admiral Chebychev that your students deserved a reward for what they had done. I had heard that this was a pleasant place for humans, so I suggested that they should have a holiday here. He agreed and arranged it for them. Then they said that I deserved a holiday as much as they did. I must come too. Now I am here with you."
Kerstin said. "I hope that you can get over your slipping problem Undepoldus. We want you to enjoy your stay here as much as we are enjoying our stay."
Undepoldus said. "Thank you Kerstin. I know that it will be a happy time for me because I will be with you, Marita and George. I know that when you three are happy, and I am with you, I am happy too."
George asked. "Has a supply of rocks and water been organised for you?"
Undepoldus said. "When I am with you, all I need to do is to signal a robowaiter and I will be supplied with all I need."
As Undepoldus said this, a robot trolley appeared, laden with rocks. It was equipped with a large feeding tray and a water sprinkler.
Undepoldus said. "You Spacers do things so well for me. I hope that one day I will be able to repay your kindness and consideration."
Marita said. "Do not worry about that Undepoldus. Your acceptance of us as your friends is a reward in itself."
The next section covers a revelation by Undepoldus.
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Please select PASS or CONTINUE.